Nightly News   |  June 09, 2013

List of valedictorians crowded at the top

A southern Oregon high school had 21 valedictorians this year, a trend that is growing nationwide. NBC’s Mike Taibbi reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it is that time of year when we recognize the hard work of our high school graduates and academic achievement of that one special valvaledictorian.

>> reporter: part of the ritual of high school graduation is the graduation rehearsayal, including the speech by the class valedictorian. but at south medford high school in south oregon, there isn't just one valedictorian. there are 21. part after trend that's been trending nationwide. 34 in one alabama high school .

>> our system is if everybody is a 4.0, everybody is a valedictorian.

>> reporter: it is trfrl though. one expert in college admissions saying those big numbers raise questions, if not suspicions.

>> it does make us wonder at a certain point is there a lot of rigor to the way that school gives out aids?

>> reporter: medford's distinguished 21 are being attacked saying all they've done is all they've been asked to numerical perfection. like brea who inhaled college prep courses.

>> we all have the value of our own personal education and we know the value chengs thchallenges that we 've taken on.

>> to make this a accomplishment of being a 4.0 student now is a great accomplishment for myself an my family.

>> reporter: and zach snyder, computer whiz.

>> we've been in all of these struggles together. our parents and we alike all agree that we've all earned this title.

>> reporter: and whether it is one or 21, being a voice for your graduating class matters. i still remember my valedictorian's speech at my k through 6 grammar school . yeah, that's me. there are seven days of the work, there are seven wonders of the world , there are seven holes in your head and there are seven plays to lender place elementary school . you had to be there. no jokes on their big night . this is not grammar school , it is high school .

>> the only way to be the best in the world is to commit yourself to what you care about and living with purpose.

>> reporter: good stuff from 21 seniors who can each say i'm number one -- and forget